Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Local Meal, Dark Days Challenge
Since my computer crash, it's been hard for me to get time to post about our local eating, but we're still doing the Dark Days Challenge here. Our Thanksgiving wasn't a 90% local meal, but we did try to incorporate a lot of local foods into our Thanksgiving dinner. The best surprise from that was that when you use really great ripe, fresh local cranberries then cranberry sauce tastes AMAZING. It's nothing like that stuff you get in a can, or even the stuff I've made from scratch before. Luckily, Oregon is a major grower of cranberries, not too far from here on the coast. Unfortunately, our local supermarket (who used to be better about showcasing local growers) had bags of Ocean Spray cranberries from Vermont out on their Thanksgiving display! I had to ask where the local cranberries were, and I was so glad that I did. They were wonderful. We also had local greens and veggies, and I made a pumpkin pie from scratch with pumpkins from our garden, cream from our local raw goat's milk, and eggs from our own chickens. The kids proclaimed it the best pumpkin pie ever!
So on to our local meal for this week. I decided to make San Francisco Stew, a recipe from my grandma, it's like a savory chili with some bacon and brown sugar. We're quite lucky here as it's very easy to source a lot of local foods. Our small corner grocery that's a few blocks away sells local grass-pastured ground beef, so I picked up a pound of that. We buy a 1/3 of a pig each year and have it butchered, so that takes care of the bacon.
I was fortunate enough to get in on a bulk order of dried pinto beans a couple of months ago. They're local and transitional organic. Still, they have a fair bit of dirt and rocks included, so first Asa had fun sorting beans from rocks. Then we brought them to a boil and then let them soak overnight.
At our karate dojo, someone brought in a basket of onions and garlic from their garden for free, so those were chopped up and cooked up with the ground beef and bacon.
Last month, my mom told me that if I gathered in all of the green tomatoes from my garden and individually wrapped each one in newspaper and kept them cool, they'd ripen up on their own. So I unwrapped all of my tomatoes and lo and behold had some gorgeous red ones from my own garden. Those went into a pot to boil down into tomato sauce for the stew base.
To this I added the only non-local ingredients: salt, pepper, and some brown sugar (there aren't many local sugarcane sources in the Pacific Northwest! though I might experiment with substituting honey in the recipe in the future).
Along with the stew, we had peppers and purple carrots from our garden (the last of the peppers, but I still have a few more carrots left), and for dessert some yummy homemade applesauce from some windfall apples that my neighbor said I could glean from their trees.
With all of the various ingredients that we were able to grow, glean, trade, or buy locally, I'd say this meal was about 99% local, very cool! I love that this challenge really got me thinking about what I could use from around here.